Sunday, July 4, 2010

Yumemishi

While time loops, time travel and other time related themes are by no means standard methods of eroge storytelling, they are utilised far more frequently in eroges than in most other media. This format is well suited to eroges, as the combination of written and visual elements, allow the story to for example maintain the same visual elements, whilst alterting the text, emphasising the role of time without the need for outright repetition. Although Yumemishi's time device (experiencing one day twice, the first time as a dream, the second time as reality) is slightly less sophisticated both in scope and execution than some other eroges, the scenario writer Kimura Koroya's (Yumemi Hakusho, Tropical KISS, Choujikuu Bakuren Monogatari ~door☆pi☆chu~ and one of the writers for the upcoming Steal My Heart ~ Rhapsody of moonlight~) use of it is still highly effective, and despite the great characters and strong writing, Yumemishi isn't nearly as well known as it deserves to be.


Yumemishi (夢見師) is a 2006 ADV, originally released for PS2 by Princess Soft, and ported to the PC in 2007 later by H℃ (now no longer active) with the addition of a new sub-heroine (Seiya) in a past story, and ero-scenes. There is also a sequel/continuation of Yumemishi, Yumemi Hakusho, set within the same world, from the same writer and artist - unfortunately I haven't yet played that, so I can't draw any comparisons between the two. The story is centred around protagonist Yumemura Hirou, and his interactions with three heroines - the school's number one idol, Sanada Natsuko, a lively, energetic and somewhat free-spirited girl, Morita Nao, and a mysterious reticent girl from a different school, Sumiyoshi Sakura. Hirou lives with his sharp-tongued, and surprisingly lolified grandmother, Yumemura Tose, who is a renowned oneiromancer, and when the game beings, lives a seemingly normal life - overhearing another confession to Natsuko on the rooftop, being chased by a group of girls who want their fortunes told, and being coerced afterschool by Nao into buying her dessert. When the first day of the story repeats, Hirou takes a while to put the pieces together, as he assumes that the ordinary day to day events are so common, that they could have occured at any time. However, he gradually becomes more aware of his own ability, while his bonds with each heroine gradually grow beyond friendship. As each relationship deepens, and he learns more about the burden each carries and comes to understand the powers of a yumemishi (dream master), he may be forced to employ his foresight to prevent certain events from occuring.

Each of the three chapters focuses on a different heroine(s), resulting in a fixed clear order. However, for reasons that become clear later in the story, all of the 'true' endings for each character are placed at the end of Chapter 3. The structure of each route, and the overall story is relatively simple in comparison to other 'time' eroges, meaning in 'conventional' terms that there's enough story and character depth provided for the more dramatic moments to be effective. Yumemishi also has some fantastic characters, and it's one of the few eroges where I found it virtually impossible to pick a favourite out of the four heroines - they all get equally good routes too so that doesn't help either. The two important sub-characters, Tose (loli-gran) and [spoiler] are relatively unusual, and also have an important role to play throughout the overall story. Although there are other sub-characters, none are given tachie, which is an understandable area to cut corners on, given that most only appear in one or two scenes.

Perhaps the main criticism that can be levelled at the scenario are the occasional employment of convenient events in places to drive the story forward. There are a few moments (generally around the middle of each route) where certain somewhat convenient events occur, so that the repeat of each day will be different. Although these moments are necessary to establish Hirou's ability, the powers and consequences it has, and to build up to each ending, they sometimes feel purely like convenient plot devices, rather than legitimate story developments.
Although Yumemishi's greatest strengths are all the work of the scenario writer Kimura Koroya, the other elements are by no means second-rate. Aside from a noticeable slip in one of Natsuko's HCGs and one or two other smaller errors, the quality of the lineart and colouring remains a bit above average for a 2006/7 release. The quantity is also more than sufficient for a game of this length, with over 100 base CGs, including 30 for each of the three main heroines. Although Yumemishi was originally released for the PS2, with the ero being added to the PC port, the 10 scenes (three for each chapter, with one in the omake story) do not feel as if they've been forced into the story. When I first played Yumemishi, I was unaware of the original all-ages version, and was surprised that certain chapters could have been executed without the ero-scenes at all. On the other hand, the placement of the scenes is somewhat unfortunate, as they generally occur towards the ends of each route, right before critical scenes. Four of the scenes are also animated, and although the animations are more than just single short loops and are quite high quality, the end results are still very unnatural and awkward.
There are no lemons in the 19 tracks of background music, and most of them are at a very high level. In addition, all utilise similar instrumentation, allowing for smooth transitions between them. The OP and song are both fantastic, and make a perfect advertisement for Yumemishi - in fact, I'd go so far as to say that if the content in the OP piques your interest, then you'll almost certainly love the game itself. The three lead seiyuu, Fukai Haruka (Natsuko), Miru (Nao) and Kazane [under the pseudonym Shiina Ayu] (Sakuya + Seiya) are all veterans in the eroge industry, and each give strong performances that befit their experience.
Although Kimura Koroya describes this title as a 6-7 out of 10 on his 'dark' scale, in reality Yumemishi is probably best described as a light eroge with grey or dark moments in each route. Whilst Yumemishi avoids any extreme depictions, the game does have bad endings and several non-consensual scenes that do not involve the protagonist. By the same token, it's more of a game that has some utsuge (and nakige) elements, rather than being a pure example of either genre. At the end of each chapter, and also after clearing the whole game, I found that although the darker and more serious elements in each chapter were by no means lacking, it was the skillful writing and characterisation in the slice of life scenes that left a slightly stronger impression overall.
Although Yumemishi's scenario is somewhat uneven, it's still strong, and there's very little to fault with the characters, pacing, text and overall plot flow. Personally it's one of the most enjoyable eroges I've played.

Overall Score: 91%
Links: OP Dlsite Getchu Gyutto Holyseal

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